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Locrian - The Clearing & The Final Epoch

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Artist: Locrian

Album: The Clearing & The Final Epoch

Label: Relapse

Review date: Aug. 10, 2012

The secret (or not-so-secret) handshake-club of consummate bands/artists that fall under the banner of heavy music/metal is one that could convert absolutely any outsider, so long as said outsider cares about the future of underground music and possesses a healthy drive to discover forward-thinking, inspirational and wildly-exhilarating sounds. Since the middle of the last decade, underground music has maintained its ability to excite due to Kylesa, Torche, Jesu, Innumerable Forms, Pelican, Northern Liberties, Kreator, Boris, Napalm Death, Withered, Zoroaster, The Body, Wolves In The Throne Room, Deathspell Omega, Pyramids, Christian Mistress, Pallbearer, Tombs, Ides of Gemini, Ufomammut, Nadja, MonstrO, Electric Wizard, Lord Dying, Converge, Deafheaven, GWAR, Pig Destroyer, The Sword and many more that I’ll skip because this is a Locrian review, not one writer’s personal “Nurse With Wound list.” So it should go without stating that Locrian belongs to this topical collection of heavy music/metal’s creatively elite.

Describing Locrian as a rather heavy ambient metal band suffices, but you could also call them a doom outfit operating on friendlier side of things from, say, Burning Witch, Gnaw Their Tongues or Cough. It is accomplished without nary a toe-dip into Goth waters, yet feels distinctively European even though the band hails from Chicago. Locrian is a trio, two members of which are professors at Columbia College Chicago. Formed around 2005, they dialed up the prolific nature of Locrian in 2008 with five full-length releases across several formats (LP, cassette, CD-R and CD), continued this trend in 2009, then simplified affairs by releasing a single full-length each year since. Relapse snapped up the band for the CD release of The Clearing (released on vinyl by Fan Death Records in 2011) and added the full CD of unreleased content that constitutes the Final Epoch half of the set. (It should also be mentioned that earlier this year, Locrian collaborated with Mamiffer for a split LP on Utech Records. Mamiffer is comprised of Aaron Turner of Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head Records, etc and spouse Faith Coloccia of Everlovely Lightningheart and Pyramids.)

Incorporating Krautrock nods in a tasteful manner, and hitting upon a unique and perfectly downplayed angle for which to tackle the vocal conundrum that continues as heavy music’s tenacious albatross, Locrian is indeed one of those bands who simply feel and sound “special” (see previously-listed bands) behind an intangible force that distinguishes their art from the massive swelling of lesser contemporaries. The Clearning & The Final Epoch double-disc stops just short of the miraculous few -- records like Jesu’s Opiate Sun, Boris’ Heavy Rocks, Withered’s Dualitus -- that can successfully transport lifers back to the revered late-teens/early-20s eureka moment of burning curiosity and love for one’s chosen field of musical expertise. And don’t make the mistake of assuming Final Epoch is the weaker of the two based on its ilk of material (“unreleased” sometimes means “unreleased for a reason”) -- know that the proper album travels into the second disc seamlessly, and Final Epoch displays almost equally-pleasurable and singular (to Locrian) dynamics. The two-disc set would easily pass as one proper album or a version expanded with content that didn’t fit into the single-LP format released last year by Fan Death Records if information to the contrary didn’t exist.

Despite the fact that this review may have made the following suggestion a bit hard, try not to think about “post-metal” when listening to Locrian’s The Clearing & The Final Epoch and just let the music do what it’s going to do to the emotional enjoyment receptors. This is a band adept at transcending the cheapness of sub-genre terminology if one allows them to do so.

By Andrew Earles

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